With only weeks to go until the HBO adaptation of The Last Of Us debuts, the network has released a brand-new trailer to keep fans excited for the series ahead, and this is a big one. HBO delivers more than two minutes of footage, so this analysis will break it down a bit at a time. Spoilers ahead! The opening image of the trailer establishes the scale and ambition that fans should expect from the series, as we see Joel, Ellie, and Tess walking through desolate streets toward the infamous Capitol building (yellow top and spire).

Layered over a series of familiar scenes featuring the lurking shadows of clickers, we can hear Bella Ramsey’s voiceover. “If you don’t think there’s hope for the world, why bother going on?,” Ramsey says, to which Pedro Pascal’s Joel replies: “You haven’t seen the world.”

As we see flashes of Joel and his daughter Sarah pre-outbreak, Pascal can be heard reiterating the importance of family and telling Ellie that she’s nothing more to him than cargo. As we know, the journey these characters embark upon transforms through their struggle across the post-pandemic landscape of the USA. The trailer offers insight into Ramsey’s chemistry with her co-stars, making playful twitching noises while revealing her immunity to a less-than-impressed Tess (Anna Torv). She makes reference to a cure being developed “somewhere out west.”

Pedro Pascal's Joel - The Last Of Us.
Pedro Pascal plays Joel, leading the series alongside Bella Ramsey’s Ellie.

At the 48-second mark, there’s a massive easter egg that won’t be hard to miss but smartly ties into events from The Last Of Us Part II. A radio inside a room switches on and begins to play the opening chords to Aha’s ‘Take On Me’, a song Ellie plays on guitar to Dina in the sequel. Considering it’s a piece of music never heard during the original game, it’s easy to believe the series may incorporate events from the sequel.

There’s an almost identical shot of Ellie crossing a makeshift plank of wood after she, Joel, and Tess narrowly escape infected from a museum. Similarly to the image of the Capitol Building, there are shot-for-shot throwbacks to the source material, including David’s axe-in-the-table moment (we’ll be circling back to him later) and Louis’s burning farm from the prologue. As the trailer progresses, we see more of the world beyond the quarantine zone. There’s the previously mentioned Humvee, another vehicle with the word “run” spray-painted on a front snow plough, and intense raiding efforts on houses, presumably inside the quarantine zone.

Later we get our first look at the winter chapter, with a group of people on horses surrounding Joel and Ellie in the snow, and Marlon and Florence (Graham Greene and Elaine Miles), a couple entirely unassociated from the source material. When Pascal’s Joel asks them if they have any advice “on the best way west,” Greene replies: “Yeah, go east.”

We then spot a couple more faces fans will recognise from the game, including David (Scott Shepherd), a primary antagonist who befriends Ellie in the winter chapter and later reveals himself as a creepy, whispering cannibal. Sadly, the trailer fails to deliver any sneak peeks at Ashley Johnson’s cameo, but we do see Troy Baker roaming the woods with David’s group. Baker, who will feature alongside Ashley Johnson in guest roles, can be seen holding a rifle. The money’s on Baker playing Ruben, David’s second in command who meets the wrong end of an axe, thanks to Ellie. 

Nick Offerman is cutting about playing Bill, the lovable, bullheaded recluse and sole occupant of Bill’s town. That’s the version we see in The Last of Us game. In the series, he’s no longer the only occupant, as the series drafts Murray Bartlett to play his partner Frank. The trailer indicates that Bill and Frank’s relationship is strained, as Bill can be seen pointing a gun at Frank while the two share uneasy glances at each other. However, as their storyline plays out, giving them more screen time is easily one of the best deviations from the source material.

The series will also dedicate time to Ellie and Riley’s Left Behind DLC, including a vibrant shot of a lit-up shopping mall and the photo booth scene between the two best friends and lovers. Before we wrap up the trailer deep dive, we need to talk about that end scene. The bloater. It’s honestly even more terrifying than the video game counterpart. In the dying seconds of the trailer, the hulking monster rises from flames, and it’s an image that’ll be hard to get out of your head. It is by far the best shot from the trailer, and one of the best images from the adaptation we never saw in the game.

The Bloater In All Its Horrifying Glory.
The bloater emerges in all its horrifying glory.

As a last note, there’s also a fleeting moment in that we see Bella Ramsey, by the looks of it, holding a newborn baby. This is not a moment this writer recognises from The Last of Us games.

The Last Of Us will premiere on Jan. 15, 2022. Are you excited to watch the show? Let us know your thoughts on the new trailer in the comments below, and keep your eyes on GameLuster for more gaming news.

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